Tigers get Iglesias from Boston in three-team swap
Garcia to White Sox, Villarreal to Red Sox as part of deal on eve of Deadline
DETROIT -- Dave Dombrowski walked into the interview room at Comerica Park on Tuesday afternoon thinking he likely had no more deals coming before Wednesday's 4 p.m. ET non-waiver Trade Deadline. By the time he left the park in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, he had the Tigers' shortstop for the next five years, acquiring Jose Iglesias from the Red Sox in a three-team trade that sent Avisail Garcia to the White Sox and reliever Brayan Villarreal to Boston.
More important for the Tigers' playoff drive now, Dombrowski had his team and its postseason hopes protected against whatever news comes out on the Biogenesis investigation in the next few days.
"He's a shortstop for the future of our organization," Dombrowski said of Iglesias. "Jhonny Peralta is our shortstop now. I know the natural question is, 'What does that mean for Peralta?' and right now, under these circumstances, the frank reality is I do not know.
"I also think that the more we talk about our scenario, if there's a lengthy suspension in which Jhonny does not play -- and I do not know where that stands -- we feel that we are now very protected with somebody we like a great deal."
That protection didn't come cheap, and it could haunt Detroit if Garcia blossoms into a five-tool outfielder for the White Sox like the Tigers hoped he might with them. Garcia was Detroit's third-ranked prospect according to MLB.com going into the season before his big league stint earlier this year dropped him from prospect status. Only top prospect Nick Castellanos ranked higher among position players in the Tigers' farm system.
But with Castellanos still in the organization, and other outfield prospects developing further down, Detroit dealt from what the organization felt was a position of strength in its Minor League system to fill a position where it had questions for the present if Peralta is suspended, let alone the future.
The Tigers spent at least eight years trying to develop a young shortstop with little results to show for it. Their trade talks to fill the void came together in just a few hours.
"Around 3 o'clock [in the afternoon], we were not really anywhere seriously discussing things," Dombrowski said. "It didn't really start taking place until close to game time."
The Red Sox were in talks with the White Sox about acquiring Jake Peavy, but were having trouble putting together a package the White Sox liked.
"We found a potential opportunity with the Tigers, and expanding it to a three-team deal allowed all three teams to get what they needed," Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington told reporters. "We certainly didn't go into this July looking or expecting to trade Jose, but we felt given the strength of that position in the organization with Stephen Drew obviously our everyday shortstop right now and the guys we have coming behind him in the Minor Leagues, it was a relative area of a strength to deal from."
The 23-year-old Iglesias had been splitting time at shortstop and third base this season, including a four-game series in Detroit last month in which he showed outstanding range and arm.
"This guy is special defensively," Dombrowski said. "Our scouting reports have him as an All-Star shortstop. I don't know if he'll be that or not, but some of our scouting reports do. But somebody that has seen him play just sent me a note that said, 'In all my years in the game, the only two defensive shortstops that I've seen that are better are Ozzie [Smith] and [Omar] Vizquel.'"
Offensively, Iglesias has had an up-and-down season. He had multihit efforts in four of his first five games to begin the season, returned to Boston a month later from Triple-A Pawtucket and had a .434 average (49-for-113) on June 25. After settling down heading into the All-Star break, Iglesias has struggled since, going 4-for-32 with no extra-base hits.
"He's hitting .330 at the Major League level," Dombrowski said. "I don't necessary think he's a .330 hitter for his career, but we like him."
Had Peralta's involvement in the Biogenesis investigation not been hanging over them, Dombrowski said, the Tigers would've been looking at Iglesias at season's end as a potential trade target with Peralta hitting free agency. Iglesias is finishing up a four-year, $14.24 million contract he signed out of Cuba in 2009. He won't be eligible for arbitration for another couple years, and won't hit free agency until after 2018.
Like other teams with players mentioned in reports, the Biogenesis investigation changed some timetables.
Dombrowski said he heard from the Red Sox a few weeks ago and told them the Tigers were comfortable with what they had at shortstop. They had some contact Monday with no results. The Red Sox, Dombrowski said, kept in touch.
Dombrowski, like many general managers, hates uncertainty. The more uncertainty that arose, from the potential length of suspensions to the potential of an appeal to reports Tuesday that many players involved are prepared to accept suspensions, the less comfortable Dombrowski became with their plan.
"I don't think anybody knows what's going to take place for sure, but I think that there's enough smoke you've got to be concerned," Dombrowski said. "I'm not at great liberty to talk about it, because that's a Commissioner's Office decision. I really have nothing to do with that type of decision and I really don't know what's going to happen 100 percent. But I read the same names you read, and I got concerned."
Dombrowski's remarks were his first on the entire investigation. As recently as Tuesday afternoon, he had declined to comment on Peralta's situation or even whether he had a contingency plan if Peralta is suspended. When asked theoretically about their depth in the middle infield, Dombrowski listed Triple-A Toledo infielders Argenis Diaz and Danny Worth along with Ramon Santiago as options.
"There's two different ways to look at it, and I unfortunately don't know the total answer here," Dombrowski said. "But if you're talking 15 days disablement, we're prepared for that. Diaz and Worth and Santiago, they prepare you for 15 days. Fifty days, if it comes to that, and a postseason run, I'm not saying you don't win with that, but you'd like to be stronger, and this puts us in a stronger position. We feel comfortable that he can go out there and play."
For now, Peralta remains Detroit's starting shortstop. The Tigers will wait to see what happens from there. With Iglesias, at least, their worry is lessened.
"Peralta is our shortstop unless he's ruled not our shortstop," Dombrowski said. "When I talked to Jose and his agent happened to be there, he asked him how much playing time is going to get. And right now, I can't answer that question. I don't really know.
"We think he will be a very valuable part of our club, we think he'll be a very valuable part as we go in the long-term, but right now, Peralta is our shortstop and we'll just see what happens."